Playlist: Twin Peaks and beyond
The term ‘Lynchian’ connotes many things.
One of these many things is the aesthetic of whimsy; where the impulsive nature of dreaming manifests itself as a cockeyed reality. This non-reality may then be presented as a neurological contradiction; where the warmth of day deviates away from the light to illuminate the inky fibres of our deepest fears. Lynchian is a mode where impossibility materialises in its most demonic form. Lynchian embodies the slow realisation that you are no longer asleep and what stands before you truly exists. It’s a perpetual dreamscape inhabited by human monsters living in their own inhumane universe.
Music has remained at the forefront of Lynch’s genre-negating projects since his 1977 debut feature-length, Eraserhead. On the benefits of sound, he said, “It’s almost like a drug. It’s so pure that when it goes in your ears, it instantly does something to you.” Lynch is heavily dependent on his choice of music to impersonate the delusions he captivates onscreen. The lo-fi wooziness is now almost customary in all of his work. Yet, arguably nothing he has been involved with married sound and vision so distinctively than for the Twin Peaks series.
Having initially worked alongside soundtrack composer Angelo Badalamenti for Blue Velvet, Lynch approached his friend and longtime collaborator with the prospect of writing music for a TV show. The story goes that while Lynch was describing the fear of a teenage girl lost in the woodlands, Badalamenti slowly repeated two menacing chords over and over. For the first time, Lynch was hearing what would inevitably become Laura Palmer’s Theme. The tone of this piece laid the hallucinatory foundations for Twin Peaks; a show that has since redefined the purpose television soundtracks.
Over the two series, Badalamenti’s tremolo guitar phrases and lounge jazz piano transported you to a world of giants, silent drapes, dead teens, backspeaking dwarves and damn fine coffee. And its influence today resonates profoundly in the music of contemporary artists.
Be it Lynch’s own awkward solo productions, the abstract hypnosis of Chelsea Wolfe, or the work of Badalamenti tribute act, Silencio, Lynchian music is omnipresent in the art of those caught under the director’s spell. It bleeds in to the fringes of all music types from The Pixies’s sparse noise-rock to Biosphere’s ambient techno to the synth-driven indie of Sky Ferreira (who stars in the new season). So, as the world prepares to re-enter Twin Peaks’s celestial void, anaesthetise yourself with this foreboding playlist of nightmarish oddities.